Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC): Environmental-Vehicle-Human Interface

  • Helge KarchEmail author
  • Shana R. Leopold
  • Annelene Kossow
  • Alexander Mellmann
  • Robin Köck
  • Andreas Bauwens


Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) are a pathogenic subgroup of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), and have demonstrated ability to cause severe intestinal disease and the hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Cattle are the major reservoir of EHEC, where the bacteria can persist asymptomatically for years. Of particular concern are a small percentage of animals in herds that shed extremely high numbers of EHEC, termed ‘supershedders’, and are responsible for the majority of EHEC spread and contamination. Another transmission route is through the environment where EHEC can survive for weeks to many months, remaining viable in bovine feces, soil and water. EHEC contamination of meat during slaughter or processing, or contamination of plants via EHEC-containing water or manure are major routes of entry into the food chain. Several hundred outbreaks caused by EHEC O157 as well as non-O157 strains have been identified in industrialized countries worldwide. Current and future research efforts are focused on rapid outbreak identification, development of therapeutics, and implementation of preventative measures.


Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Shiga Toxin Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Patient Radish Sprout Bovine Feces 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helge Karch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shana R. Leopold
    • 2
  • Annelene Kossow
    • 2
  • Alexander Mellmann
    • 2
  • Robin Köck
    • 2
  • Andreas Bauwens
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of HygieneUniversity Hospital of MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Hygiene, University Hospital of MünsterMünsterGermany

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